Thursday, December 15, 2011

Noah's Ark: Belief Versus Science

It would be hard to grow up in America and not hear the story of Noah and the Ark from the Old Testament. Many believers are focused on Mt. Ararat in Turkey as a potential site for finding the ancient ship.

The difficulty with searching for proof to validate faith is that it corrupts both the process of science and of belief.

Those of strong faith who truly want to believe in Noah's Ark, can do some real mental gymnastics to retain and support their belief. Here is an example of how looking for proof of a belief system means screwing up one's thinking: A site about the search for the ark wrote an article entitled, "Even if Noah's Ark is Not Proven, Noah's Ark Could Have Still Landed on Mt. Ararat." Hmm...

This kind of thinking reminds me of being in a dysfunctional family where mom might be drunk on the couch and vomiting every morning and the family legend is that "mom is allergic to milk." In order to be part of the family, one must acquire this belief, even if his logic tells him that mom was cradling a vodka bottle all afternoon. Faith asks people to believe, sometimes the impossible, and leaves a niggling doubt. That becomes a search for proof so one's intellect can be satisfied by the desire to carry the belief. If you can't change your belief, you can change your thinking around to support it by looking for something that has a trace of logic.

In the case of science, there is no magic. Everything must work within the rules of our physical universe. They break up the event into a series of impossibilities in our known world. How could Noah collect so many animals including kangaroos? How did he build a craft and collect and store enough food and water to survive such a long time? How in the world would a wooden boat atop a mountain still be there? Where did the water come from--there is not enough water in the sky and sea to flood the earth.

This reminds me of when a person focuses on how a man became successful. He lists all the chores the businessman did along the way, the trials he had, the decisions he made, the victories he obtained. He discusses the businessman's financial investments, his franchising and partnerships. What this admirer of the businessman's success has missed that made all of those components work was the businessman's belief that he could make it work. Without that belief, none of those seemingly impossible deeds would have been done and none of the success attained.

Who is right? Who is wrong? It wouldn't matter. The scientist could prove the improbability and the believer will never join him. The believer could recite the Bible and never win over the scientist. We won't find the Ark. If it existed, it is long gone. What we can do is just let go and let be. That one person believes in it and another does not, does not in any way change the tasks we have to do here on earth. No decisions are made or broken by this supposed past event. The believer can walk away feeling firm in his own personal knowledge, as can the scientist.

The real magic in our world comes from never really knowing. So long as nothing is absolute, there are possibilities....


  1. Does love conquer all? Is good stronger than evil? Sometimes you have to believe in something, with all of your heart, even if it isn't true.

    As for the legend of Noah, does the story need to be true or does the lesson that it teaches need to be true? I've learned many truisms from Aesop's Fables?

    A Gnostic text, the "Apocryphon of John" tells the Noah story without an Ark. Utnapishtim is the name of the Noah character in the Gilgamesh.

    Noah's name means "rest" or "comfort" and I guess that what sticks with me the most. Being a source of comfort in times of stress.

  2. I personally think that this story, along with most (if not all) of the Old Testemant is utter hooey. It's funny how acurate your argument is - my father, who says ghosts are "impossible", and who says the Christian Creation myth is not "literally true", still firmly believes that the story of Noah and his ark is true. OK, if it was true, that would mean we're all the inbred descidents of Noah's family. Yeah, I don't think so.

    1. If you actually knew there is evidence that show that noah's ark is real. The bible mentioned that it had never rain there at that time. That there was a mist that would water the plants. Well they found an ark in a country and it dosen't have the wood design. it was a super smooth plain wood beacause it didn't have the rain water marks. Y? Because its exsactly like the story said it it hadn't rain during that time. Think about it. Science proves it.

    2. The story of Noah and noahs ark could be true. I think the bigger issue is the infighting in the scientific community, and the show me don't tell me attitude that is harbored by reasonable individuals. We want proof, and we are not willing to compromise on that issue.