Many Christians try to support the Noah’s Ark story, saying that the bible tells the truth of the tale. That it really was a worldwide flood and the only survivors were Noah and his family, just as the bible says. They also believe what the bible says about the flood covering the tips of the mountains. They often believe that the world was a lot flatter back then and that it was the flood which caused the really high mountains like Everest. Nevertheless, the fact is the bible states there were mountains (even if they weren’t extremely high) and that the water covered them completely.
An argument I have heard time and time again to support the idea of a global flood is that there are numerous tales and myths of worldwide floods by almost every culture in the world, thus proving that a worldwide flood did in fact occur.
Helloooooooo! Are you trying to stab yourself in the foot? You must be, because the bible quite clearly states that Noah and his family were the ONLY survivors!
And ALL flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and EVERY MAN: ALL in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and NOAH ONLY remained alive, and they that were with him in the Ark.
Gen. 9:18 The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.
There were NO other survivors according to the bible. No other people of any other names and certainly not any other people saved by other gods, because the god of the bible is the one true god. Isn’t he? So no, no one else could have possibly survived the flood if the bible is telling the truth. So if other stories are true, where boats or rafts were created and those on board survived, then the bible is LYING to us!
Many of these other tales tell of people surviving by climbing to mountain tops. Eg Greece, New Zealand, Ecuador. Once again, if the bible is telling the truth this can’t possibly be true because the flood covered EVERY mountain top!
And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
So nobody could have survived by climbing to higher ground. If they did, then the bible is LYING to us!
This alone should be enough for any Christian to flag away all these other tales as nonsense, (or simply tales of local floods) and thus not worthy of even being mentioned when it comes to supporting the idea of a worldwide flood. Surely they should never be used to argue that the world wide flood really did occur. That would show that the bible contains blatant lies. However, the next argument that comes is that “Well those other stories are around because the Noah’s Ark story was handed down from generation to generation as Noah’s descendants spread across the globe”. Sounds reasonable? Well no, because then that’s no proof of a global flood at all. It’s just proof that good stories travel and parents tell their kids those stories. At the very most it is proof of a local flood.
However, lets say that these tales we get from other countries and other cultures really did come from Noah’s descendants. Let’s say that the Noah story was the original one. Noah’s descendants all made their way out to different countries and settled. They told their story of the great flood. The story got handed down from generation to generation. It would make sense that this story might evolve. That people may put their own spin on it.
So Noah’s descendants in Chaldea might decide to change the story a little...
Let’s not use Yahweh as the god of the story. Let’s use the god that we now worship; Chronos. So it’s now Chronos who sends the flood. And let’s not use the name Noah as that is too Hebrew. Let’s make the star of our story a Chaldean like us. Let’s make it our great grandfather Xisuthrus!
Further down the track in 700BC in India, Noah’s descendants decide to do something similar...
But let’s have the story set in India rather than the Middle East. Let’s make it more relevant to US. Let’s have OUR god Matsyu be the who sends the flood, after all he’s the REAL God, not Yahweh. And let’s make the star of our story an Indian like us. Let’s make it our great grandfather Manu! We can still have the same story. We can still have the birds being sent out to find land, but instead of Noah, it will be Manu!
And so all around the world the story changes to make it take part in THAT part of the world, the flood being sent by a god that THEY worship and choose a local hero that THEY revere. So we have tales with people of different names, some building arks, some rafts, some even hiding in trees or climbing mountains. Sometimes it’s a man and his family, sometimes is a brother/sister combo. Sometimes talking animals are included in the stories. Sometimes monsters. Every one adds their own twist and puts their culture into the story so we end up with similar but also very different tales to the original.
To me this would make perfect sense. I could easily see how a story, even a true one could evolve and how we might have different tales all over the world of the same event, with slightly different spins, different gods and different human heroes.
However, none of that proves a worldwide flood.
Let’s go back to the original tale of Noah…
Now hold on a minute. Is the biblical tale of Noah the original story? Or is this once again a new version of an older tale? Is this another spin, one that has been altered especially for the Jewish people to include their culture, their country and their heroes? What if someone decided that their great grandfather Noah would make the perfect fit for the story?
Let’s consider this. The Noah’s Ark story is estimated to have taken place around 2348 BC, however the tale was never actually written down on paper until around 1000 BC at the earliest. So there is a 1348 year period where the tale is handed down from generation to generation verbally. That’s a lot of generations. That’s a lot of people spreading out to different parts of the globe and establishing their own cultures and heroes.
We have seen how easy the Noah’s Ark tale was changed even in a period of a few centuries, changed to suit the tellers of the story, changed to make the story more relevant to their time, people and culture. Even the Jews who are renowned for good record keeping have allowed the tale to be twisted over this time. Why would we presume it had not been twisted within the 1348 years it was handed on orally?
We can’t assume that the tale we have in the bible is original. We can’t even presume that Noah was the hero or that Yahweh was the god who sent the flood. It could very well have been a different god and a different person.
What if the original God who sent the flood was a god named Ea? What if the true hero of the ark story was a man named Utnapishtim? What if this flood took place in 2700BC long before Noah and his family ever existed?
Yes, I am talking about the Epic of Gilgamesh, writings that have been around long before the Noah’s Ark story. It is so very much similar. Utnapishtum even sent out birds to test to see if there was somewhere for his ship (The Preserve of Life) to land. It’s the older story. Why is Noah’s story so similar? An incredible coincidence? Hardly. Clearly the Noah’s Ark story is not the original version of this tale.
Is it so unbelievable that the Noah’s Ark tale might be a variation of the story of “Utnapishtum and the Preserve of Life”, like all the other similar myths could be a variation of the Noah’s Ark story? Surely, if we are honest with ourselves we have to consider this? Surely if we are honest with ourselves we would have to question the veracity of the bible story? Surely… if we are honest with ourselves…