History for the Curious with John G. McKay
As far along the evolutionary track as mankind has advanced intellectually, we still subscribe to some of the most absurd notions imaginable. For centuries, we clung to the belief that the world was flat, and that the Sun was the centre of the universe. In fact, you could be jailed for not believing it. And yet, any modern schoolchild can easily disprove both of these fallacies.
Nonetheless, many other foolish beliefs still abound, not the least being the biblical flood story, a mythical event that never could have happened during mankind's short tenure on the planet. Let us examine it in rather more detail than is generally offered.
According to the story, some god decided that because of mankind's unsatisfactory conduct, all life was to be destroyed in a prodigious flood. Everything living had to go, guilty and innocent alike, except the fishes, since no one could figure a way to drown them.
In order to ensure the survival of breeding stock, it was decided that Noah and his kin would be spared, and they would build an ark in which two (or seven, depending on whose version of the scripture one subscribes to) of every creature living on the Earth would be accommodated in this magnificent boat.
The plans for the boat were duly forwarded from the celestial draughting office, including
dimensions, layout and even the type of wood to use. In the event, the project was held up a good while until it could be determined where the extra water needed would be imported from. There wasn't enough in the world's oceans or held up in the skies, or frozen in the polar ice caps to do the job.
After all, you can't just flood a part of a world to the height of the mountaintops without flooding the rest.
Yet, they must somehow have managed this trick, because we all know that there were myriads of creatures throughout the unknown world that would have to be found and somehow herded into the ark along with the rest, or otherwise they couldn't exist now, since the Creationists insist that no new life forms have been created since the creator populated the world.
Another part of this project that is difficult to reconcile is that it would be necessary to house two (or seven) of every living creature in a closed boat for an indeterminate time, since no one knew how long this flood was to last. They would also have to find and store all the varied types of food and fodder, fresh water (since ocean water diluted with rainwater is still undrinkable) and the personnel required to separate predators from their prey, and to clean up after the entire lot.
The least imaginative among us could never rationalize 40 days of rain accomplishing such a flood. The southwest monsoon in the Pacific rains longer than that, and the Canadian west coast often rains that long. Critical, too, was the prescribed number of creatures essential to succeeding generations surviving without casualties. In effect, the death of one rat must mean no more rats; one mosquito or black fly dead would mean no more of them, and the human being who forfeited the chance to swat all four of them while he had the chance, should have been cast overboard.
So, there you go, another popular myth torn to rags.
John G. McKay is an Amherst resident who has written numerous short novels on the history.