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Classics #1: Noah and the Flood

These are short essays that I wrote over my time as an undergraduate student. I've done slight revisions, but my goal was to keep the writings as close to the original to show progression.

Noah and the Flood (Nov 11, 2019)

Here is yet another classic Bible story that people look at in completely the wrong way. I say that based on my experience as a child growing up in a Christian environment, and on my own personal memories of how the story was taught as a child. From my memory, the adults made the story to be about this grand man, Noah, and his amazing faith in God. All I learned from my Sunday School teachers was that everyone thought Noah was crazy for building this big ass ark, but Noah went on anyway, because it was what God commanded. He had FAITH. Go Noah! Then the adults would focus on how 2 of every animal of the Earth came and got on the arc, and that’s how Noah saved all the animals of the earth from this great big flood. And then there was something about a dove and an olive branch. That’s what I got from the story as a kid.

It’s so upsetting rereading this story now and understanding that is totally NOT the point of the flood story. I’m noticing more and more how modern people have this tendency to interpret Biblical stories in such a shallow, meaningless way. People seem to focus on either 1: having faith in God, and how awesome things work out if you “believe in God!” Or 2: nitpick the story over some factual absurdity, in this case the whole two of every animal magically coming to the arc and chillin with the homie Noah for a couple months while God gets his vengeance on humanity. Ok, yes, those are both technically parts of the story… yes. But that isn’t what you should focus on if you want to acquire any realistic wisdom from this ancient story.

First of all, this story isn’t about the heroic actions of one man’s faith in God. (Modern Christians tend to focus on the good, not the bad.) No. Not the point. This story, and all flood myths for that manner, are essentially a warning to what can happen if people go down the wrong path for too long. It ends in disaster. Nobody wants to talk about this verse: “The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5). Shiit man. That’s harsh. Consistently and totally evil. Wow. That’s something to think about. This idea that human beings are lil pieces of shit isn’t just a Christian idea either. In ancient Mesopotamia, Sumerians had this god Tiamat. Tiamat made this big army of monsters; most despicable shit imaginable to fuck up this other god Marduk. Tiamat created Kingu, who’s like head of the demon-monsters. This is the worst possible monster out there. Anywho… in the Enuma Elish, the Mesopotamian creation myth, Marduck slays Kingu, and creates humans from Kingu’s blood. So pretty much Mesopotamians thought the source of human beings was from the worst possible monster. What a strange idea. There must be something to it.

So then you might ask.. what is it about humans that is so terrible? Well… that’s a good question. One answer might be, because we are the only species to develop self-consciousness. We know what hurts us. And if you know how to hurt you, you best believe you can inflict that same pain on someone else. We are the only creature capable of such malevolence. This is what you see laid out in the story of Cain and Able. Cain is angry at God for rejecting his sacrifice, and God tells Cain that it is his fault the sacrifice didn’t please him. God pretty much says, “sucks dude, quit whining and do better”. Cain doesn’t like that answer very much though, and decides consciously to spite God in the worst way he can think of: murdering his own brother in cold blood. The flood story is an expansion on this idea of humans capacity for evil. Every single person has some Cain in them, but also some Able. If society doesn’t consciously make an effort to personify and act out a proper way of moral being, society will degenerate, and there will be consequences. Dire consequences at that.

Another interesting point of the story: why do all the animals have to die? God’s only mad at humans, so why wipe out everything? I think this speaks to an idea gaining more and more prevalence as we continue to do more and more damage to our natural world as the decades go on. This story is saying that human beings are top dog on planet Earth, and that our actions have a direct effect on the whole world and every living being on the planet. If we don’t get our shit together, all lifeforms pay the price. Which we have seen playing out especially with global warming over the last 50 or so years.

The flood myth should be taken as a warning to us all that there are severe consequences for misbehavior as a species. Like yeah… Noah is cool an all… dude’s a baller for building an arc and saving all the animals. But that isn’t what we should be focusing on when interpreting this ancient story. Human beings are capable of being rotten to the core, and if this goes on for too long, look out. A cataclysmic disaster is on the way.

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