What? By Oglaf? And it’s entirely safe for work? Yep.
You don’t get to postulate a globe-spanning catastrophic flood that demolishes everything on the land and simply assume that fish will be unaffected. Every aquarist knows fish are profoundly affected by things like salinity, pH, elements like phosphates, etc. We don’t usually have to worry about violent churning and silt, fortunately, but in Noah’s flood you would.
I hadn’t thought about the potatoes, and most plants, in fact, but they also wouldn’t tolerate the massive disruption caused by the Christian magic flood story.
Of course, if you accept the metaphor, myth, and poetry theory, all the problems go away.
chigau (違う) says
Are the “fountains of the deep” fresh water or salty water?
Pierce R. Butler says
The exact same questions got me thrown out of Sunday School at approximately age eight.
My faith, such as it was, has never recovered.
Pierce R. Butler says
Though it never occurred to me until now to wonder just where, after the Great Dissolving, anybody got their salt.
The problem as I see it is god should have seen it coming, ya know, the whole omniscience thing.
PZ Myers says
Oglaf’s god is a petty and rather stupid god.
PZ Myers says
Just like the Christian deity!
Owosso Harpist says
Another problem with the Flood involves how did the fossil record got so arranged neatly in spite of the violent churning of the waters and why are plants and animals of certain types found exclusively in one or two or three rock stratas and nowhere else? Can anyone explain that without invoking some fanciful, made up “theories” along with miracles and magic?
The Biblical flood story doesn’t even make sense on the evangelists’ own terms. God drowned the wicked so that Noah could repopulate the world with the righteous…well, that sure didn’t work.
Even god cannot expect the Spanish Inquisition.
That would be interesting.
Damn good work for that age. The best I could do at that age was a crack about Noah having been an architect.
I’ve never been a terribly serious person.
I’ve wondered the same thing, many times. In addition to wiping out fish, it would wipe out marine mammals unless Noah got some of them on his big boat. Also, what about fungi, insects, arachnids, worms, and so forth. Without them, the soil would be dead until they evolved again, but there’s no mention of them in the story with its focus on humans and land mammals.
chigau @ #1 — “Fountains of the deep” suggests from the ocean, but there’s also the “windows of heaven” so maybe a mix of fresh and salty. Still bad for fish and marine mammals.
Which person on the ark had pubic lice?
As a child I had a book of cartoons making fun of the ark story by East German cartoonist Erich Schmitt. One of the cartoons had Noah asking his sons if they had tapeworms and then crossing them from the list.
Howard Brazee says
“Of course, if you accept the metaphor, myth, and poetry theory, all the problems go away.”
Agreed. And that works for most Christians.
There’s another theory that works too (not particularly religious), that a great flood occurred destroying Noah’s personal world and he fled with his family and farm animals.
Not quite. There was no Noah. The two spliced-together flood myths in Genesis were adapted from older Mesopotamian myths. Remember that the Mesopotamians lived in a floodplain.
I accept the myth compilation theory. Much of the material in the Pentateuch, especially in Genesis, are compilations of old myths. For example, not only are there two flood stories spliced together by a redactor, there are hints that Noah was not the Flood hero in some stories, that he may have been the inventor of wine (See Gen 5:28-29; Gen 9).
@1. chigau (違う) : Brackish?
Likely varying wildly in salinity over time with initial rising freshwater then ever saltier as evapouration and water levels fell.
BTW. this much more watery and bluer planet hypothetical youtube clip raises a notable point here at approx the 18 minutes 230 seconds mark.
I wonder how many real exoplanets might resemble that sort of world as well as or instead of our own – or be even more extreme in both directions water levels~wise?
Walter Solomon says
Asimov’s Guide to The Bible discusses the Documentary Hypothesis which may still be valid.
Have the creationists been able to explain why we never find cetacean fossils alongside those of plesiosaurs and mosasaurs?
Rob Grigjanis says
Their god can make a 6,000 year old universe look like it’s billions of years old. Making sure we can get fish and chips would be a doddle.
@15. ORigel : Okay but was there a real Deucalion and Pyrrha* or Pūluga** or Utnapishtim*** to name just three others…
Capt’n Obvs answer obvs.
Though maybe some of those based on kernals of real people (& their beloved or / & useful animals) surviving extremely big floods in very ancient times, again obviously.
.* See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deucalion
.** See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C5%ABluga
*** See : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utnapishtim
@20. Rob Grigjanis : Ever wondered whether Trilobites and Eurypterids would go well on chips with some tartare sauce? I presume belmnites and ammonites would make reasonable calamari but I could be well off there and has there ever been any horseshoe crab in crabsticks? (Yeah, know they are actually quite different genera..)
The classic Wellhaussian documentary hypothesis has fallen out of favor for supplementary hypotheses and neo-documentary hypotheses. The neo-documentary hypotheses explain the penultimate form of the Pentateuch (the 3/4 sources redacted together), but not the earlier stages of formation of those sources.
To my limited knowledge, most scholars accept that there’s Deuteronomistic material, priestly material, and non-priestly material (what neo-documentarians call JE).
Anyone remember the name of that book that laid out the theory that the flood myth was based on the flooding of the Black Sea through the Bosporus from the Mediterranean Sea after the last Ice Age?
there must have been another ark with all the plants on it. for argument’s sake, let’s call it larry’s ark.
larry and noah were pals and they sailed in a convoy so that all the plants and animals would be together if they ever made landfall. but then, noah found out that larry had included POISON IVY in his hold. so he torpedoed larry’s ark. modern plants were conveniently whooshcreated afterwards, which begs the question, why not plan to whooshcreate the animals too and forget this whole ark business. but i’m not a god.
so where did the dove find the olive branch?
Rob Grigjanis says
rorschach @24: There are flood myths in many cultures across the world. Most of those cultures were agricultural, and living on flood plains. Just picking one at random; the Incan Unu Pachakuti story.
There’s one called Noah’s Flood by William Ryan and Walter Pitman (1997). IIRC, most geologists now think the rise in water level would have been slow enough that no-one would have been likely to drown.
Asimov once postulated a largeish meteor strike in the Persian Gulf, send a flood surge/tsunami up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Thus washing survivors on debris rafts into the mountains to the north.
Thanks Nick, that’s the one I was thinking of!
You forgot the numerology in Genesis. 1 God, 3 days of separation into 2 sections followed by 3 days of adding stuff. 1+2+3 = 6 and 1x2x3= 6 . The ancients thought there was something special about prime numbers . The Flood is equally as silly
consciousness razor says
I mean, of course fish wouldn’t have survived either, for a whole bunch of reasons…. But so much water (from where?) falling to the surface in such a short time would’ve meant a big temperature increase, among other things. Pretty sure the fish (and everything else) don’t like being boiled either…. I mean, you can call it “raining” if you feel like it, but the effect would be more like bombarding the Earth with tons of comets or something along those lines, because that’s the sort of thing you’d need to make it fit with the story. Even if that were stretched out over a period of 40 days or whatever, that still would’ve been utterly catastrophic.
Then, consider what happens when all that water so quickly recedes (somewhere) — also not good, but by that point everything’s already dead, so it’s a bit beside the point. And where did it go, anyway?
I tried and tried but the only way the stories in the bible and the real world could be reconciled in my mind was the magical powers of god. the catch that trips it up is magic occurs only in the past and somewhere else.
All the little magical stories that are told about things happening today are outright lies or ignorant delusions based on misinterpretations ordinary events and usually very tiresome.
Everyone commenting is ignoring the [I]why[/I] of the flood. It was to punish all mankind for their sinfulness, moral degeneracy, and apostasy save for the one rightness man and his family. So why did God feel the need to choose a method that also drowned millions of puppy dogs, and millions of kitty cats, and millions of bunny rabbits? And he also drowned at least tens of thousands of pregnant women along with their unborn babies. And what about the millions of people whose greatest sin was not being born in the Middle East and therefore never got the message about The One True God. Image how bad things would have been if God was not so loving and merciful.
As to where the flood waters originated: most of the rivers in the Middle East are subject to spring flooding, most notably the Nile, but also the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and many others. These floods were critically important for the agricultural success of the adjacent societies. One fine, sunny spring day, weeks after the rainy season and without a cloud in the sky, the people would see the river begin to rise and would rise in torrents to flood all the adjacent land. No rain. No clouds. Just the rising river. The obvious source of all that water (and it was salt free fresh water) must be from vast stores under ground. They had no knowledge go the snow covered mountain water sheds over a thousand miles away, and probably had never even seen snow. So, the Bible authors were just repeating the common wisdom of the day when they attributed the vast majority of the Noahic flood waters to underground reservoirs welling up.
One of my speculative hypotheses is that the “fountains of the deep” were a Mediterranean local geomyth, invented to explain the occasional devastating tsunami that washed over coastal villages.
So to the extent they thought about it at all, they would probably have said “salty”.
And my other geomyth hypothesis is that while the Flood myth arose in Mesopotamia from local river floods, it was appropriated by the Israelites/Judaeans because of fossil bone-beds, and/or fossils embedded in Levantine limestone, which was under the ocean during the Cretaceous. Such fossils have been found in quarries in modern times, and it’s reasonable to posit that some also were found a couple of millenia ago, especially during more active building periods when the temple and surrounding cities were being built up.
Yeah, but Mesopotamia regularly experienced (milder) river inundations, and the communities further upriver could indeed see the mountains the rivers flowed from. Travelers, traders, and hunters would have gone up the mountains and brought back word of this white stuff that melted into water.
Israel/Judaea did not have a local river that flooded, although they do get regular heavy winter storms.
Steve Morrison says
@24: FWIW, Wikipedia has an article on the Black Sea flood hypothesis.
FYI to some: One of the two contradictory creation stories (Gen. 1) comes from the Mesopotamian creation myth The Enuma Elish, in which a group of gods (winners in a war of the gods) cut up the primal, mother goddess Tiamat and create the world. The sequence of creation in Gen. 1 and The Enuma Elish are basically the same. An alternate translation of Gen. 1 (almost certainly the most accurate translation,, rather than the popular one found in Bibles) shows it’s just a retelling of The Enuma Elish. This creation story says the Earth is a flat plate, covered by a solid dome, which keep out the vast ocean that surrounds the earth. So the fountains and windows are merely openings in the plate and dome. Also, the sky god was believed to have his palace sitting on top of the dome, and when he opened a window, it let out some water, which was the cause of rain.
The Mesopotamian flood myths are (oldest, about 2500 BCE) the story of Sumerian King Ziusudra. This later became the basis of the flood story in the epic of Gilgamesh (known from multiple texts, oldest from about 2000 BCE), who crosses the sea of death to meet the two flood survivors (Utnapishtim and his wife). One scholar suggests Noah is simply a nickname from Utnapishtim (I presume it would have sounded like Ut-No-ah-pishtim). A god warns the couple to build a boat; they send out birds after the rain; they find open land when a bird fails to return; they build an altar to thank the gods for their survival; and the goddess Ishtar creates a fly with rainbow-colored wings as a sign the gods will never send another flood. (Hmmm, sounds identical to a certain story in Genesis).
The youngest version, Atrahisis, (from a text from about 1700 BCE) has the gods being repeatedly angered by the noise people make in cities, so they send plagues several times to decimate the populations and restore quiet. One time, however, it’s a great flood. As people did not know about sanitation or medicine, this story explains why plagues occasionally swept through areas, with the concentrated populations of cities suffering the most. The dates I give are from memory of scholarly sources I read long ago, so they might be off and there might be better research on the dates since then. But the texts of these three flood myths all derive from the early to middle Bronze Ages.
Or you could just say “It’s a miracle!”, and wave away any and all objections. Indeed, I wonder why creationists ever bother giving any other answers.
@ 21. Or what #14 Howard Brazee & #15 ORigel and others also noted.
Living on floodplain – > regular floods some really severe, a bit of exxaggeration with tall tales getting ever taller, and tadah! The. Flood. Myth.
@1. chigau (違う) again : “Fountains of the Deep” – depends what they actually were but maybe they were underwater volcanoes or geysers? If the latter, (which I guess is improbable since ancient Mesopotamia is modern Iraq which far as I recall isn’t that volcanic but perhaps) extremely hot, mineral rich and maybe acidic water?
As well as the Black Sea Flood and Red Sea tsunami ideas noted by whheydt #28 Iguess theer’s the geological filling of the once dried out mediterranean sea if Humans were around early enough to ever recall that? But I guess Ockham’s razor would say, well, the first bit here is the most likely – local bad floods getting exaggerated in retelling.
John Morales says
They’re poetic language, is what they are.
(The which I think was chigau’s point)
Nemo @38, exactly.
One thing common on earth is flooding.
During the stone age, the Persian Gulf flooded, Lake Agassiz drained in multiple events, not that the old world would’ve known. Ice melts, it’s got to go somewhere and obviously, at different times. It rains a lot, the same.
Still, a great flood sounds rather like a great depression – not so great for those just trying to get by.
But, bigger with each retelling and always going back to school – uphill in both directions.
Water covering the earth? OK, where did it go, the Celestial enema bag? Nope, no enema bag constellation or anything. There are some vast clouds of ethanol, but trust me, not worthy of taste testing, the cyanogens ruin the flavor profile.
But, I do understand the bible thumper’s fixation with giants, if you were saddled with a 5.56×45 mm member, you’d probably be too.
Thought I’d get a 40mm Bofors, ended up with the same caliber grenade instead… :/
Re: SteveR @ #39…
I’m afraid that anyone who saw the Gibraltar falls (when the Med refilled) isn’t going to be a close relative. That last happened about 6Mya, IIRC fro what I’ve read.
The flood story is one of the oldest written epics in existence.
The Sumerian and later Babylonian versions are very similar to the Jewish Noah, though the flood itself grew from a week to 40 days. The Jewish people were enslaved by Babylon, and incorporated quite a few elements of their religious pantheon in the Pentateuch, such as the two trees in the garden, and the snake/god.
@ 33 answersingenitals:
There were only ten generations (1,656 years – since they lived hundreds of years) between Adam and Noah inclusive. So I kinda doubt there were tens of thousands of people in this imagined world, let alone millions. Of course, since Eve apparently never had any daughters (according to the One and Only True Christian Bible™ – some Muslims, Jews and other Christian “infidel” traditions hold that Cain and Abel both had twin sisters and got busy with them), I don’t see how the population increased beyond 5 people anyway. :)
I’ve been saying this for over a decade on Twitter and Reddit etc. If the flood happened all the sea water fish would have died, all the plants, trees and seeds would have died and all the insects would have died. The bible forgot about the rest of the ecosystem.
They are supposed to have lived a long time, but AFAIK there’s nothing to say they didn’t start reproducing in their teens. If women produced an average of 2 daughters who survived to reproductive age by the time they were 30, the population would have multiplied by more than 8 (i.e. 2^3) in a century, so after 1600+ years, there would be around 2^48 people, or approaching the quadrillions!
That’s a good question.
I can hardly begin to imagine what the flood story meant for the Jewish priest who in 6th century BCE included it in a compilation of ancient Israelite myths about the creation of the world and the origin of Israelite people. As others have noted, it was originally a sacred Mesopotamian story (or two different stories?) appropriated by Jews for their own sacred tradition. And this was while Jewish elites were exiled in Mesopotamia, trying to construct their own ethnic identity and build an isolationist culture that could survive under assimilation pressure. What metaphor or profound truth was seen in the flood story?
As for modern Christian perspective, I was taught that the history of the relationship between God and humans after Adam and Eve’s fall is a progression of God seeking reconciliation in more and more sophisticated ways. First there was the flood, in which God killed all humans except for a few of the most righteous ones, apparently hoping the righteous culture would prevail and remain uncorrupted in the new human population. Then there was God’s pact with Abraham, in which he tried to establish a new human tribe where knowledge of and allegiance to one god would be baked in as part of the tribal identity. Then there was the pact with Moses, giving the Israelites their own land and a proper law to rule it with. Naturally, it all culminated in Christ’s sacrifice.
The church I grew up in doesn’t try to pass the Genesis as literal truth. They might point out that Jesus was a historical figure (according to many Bible scholars who happen to be Christian), while conceding that the stories relating to early human and Israelite history are myths. What meaning exactly these myths are supposed to have in real world terms, remains unclear, at least to me. Overall, there’s no explanation for why humans need to be redeemed in the first place, and why is it so fucking difficult for a supposedly omnipotent god. The story of a worldwide flood and a few blessed survivors has clearly inspired people’s imaginations through Christian history, rather than being mostly forgotten and buried together with the more obscure Old Testament narratives. This again results in cultural normalization of the worldwide massacre, even before US fundies seizing the flood as a pseudoscientific counternarrative to the scientific worldview.
Re: Alt-X @ #45…
The item I’d love to point out to a Flood literalist, should I happen to meet one, is the existence of individual bristlecone pines that are old enough to have been growing from before the supposed flood.
Their god may be a psycho.
A question I’ve never seen answered is “where did all the water go?” The whole globe was inundated with water. Having it drain away just isn’t a viable answer. It would take many, many years to evaporate and even then the ground would be so saturated, nothing could grow, not even considering all plant life was drowned in the first place.
I don’t recall if the earliest Mesopotamian flood versions claimed that the flood covered the whole planet. The human tendency is to embroider and add details to stories, and rework old material into new stories. This particular story is ancient, and accordingly has become fully mythic in its details, while retaining the basic story of floods caused by vengeful gods, one god warning of the impending doom, and the man who built a boat to save his family and livestock from dying.
I think it was originally localized to Ur and the other cities that were located in the salt marshes and floodplain along the Euphrates River.
It’s a very flat area, much like Fargo, ND, so the river flooding it’s banks can look like it’s covered the whole world if you happen to be caught in it.
Wiki on Ur
Oglaf has portrayed gods and devils in multiple different ways. Sometimes really, really weird ways (Fungod). But there are also certain stereotypical depictions they use. They’ve done variations on the Forbidden Fruit trope at least three times, and the God who is depicted in those is the one above, with long white hair and beard, and the beard forks into three parts that each curls up.
Since God mentions “billions of years” above, this comic might be a continuation of this one (mildly NSFW).
And the flood might have happened as shown in this one.
Or not! They don’t necessarily have any continuity in mind for their theology,
Getting back to Mesopotamia, a while back PBS Nova had an episode about the oldest version of the flood story that included detailed instructions and dimensions for the ark.
Secrets of Noah’s Ark video is currently here.
This page has the transcript and full credits & contributors, which is perhaps more useful than the video for getting the details. I was particularly struck by the point that there were at least four cities covered by river flood deposits, which had occurred at different times over the course of a millennium or so (or in other words, no single massive flood that could be pointed to as the “source” of the story).
I wish to object on the grounds that phosphates are not elements.
John Morales says
gorobei, ah, but ‘elements’ can refer to either constituents or to basic substances.
Dr. Irving Finkel is an expert in cuneiform at the British Museum, and the real world Dumbledore. Listening to his lectures is delightful. He is quite the comedian, and his range of expertise is impressive.
It is his work that is in the PBS film linked by Owlmirror.
You can listen/view his talk ‘The Ark before Noah’ on YouTube.
Given Noah was the most righteous person on Earth, by current standards he almost certainly had everything.
Raging Bee says
Here’s another take on the creation story, also by Oglaf:
That would certainly explain a lot…
There is always Marion Zimmer Bradley’s version of The Creation. God is the mother of a small child and constantly getting interrupted, thus explaining the mess the world is in today.
John Morales says
Marion got it backwards; the OT God is the toddler.
(The Flood was a tantrum)
That’s really squicky, given that MZB is now known to have been a child abuser.
First panel of this (and, wow, really old. Took me a while to dig it up)
God: A Career Retrospective
Also old, but still interesting: Is Yahweh a Boy? (Older than a toddler, but younger than a full adult)
There’s another theory of interest I found recently. The claim is that while what we have now is an interlaced flood narrative, Noah was originally the hero of a famine/drought story. Lots of close textual analysis and comparison with other versions of the bible.
The author doesn’t draw any connection to the Late Bronze Age collapse or other actual period of hypothesized great drought in the archeological record.