Friday, July 27, 2012

Noah's Ark is a Horrifying Story We Should Not Tell Children

So, last week when I was talking about God being an asshole in that one story, it really kind of nudged me into thinking about something I've been meaning to write about for a while: Noah's Ark is possibly the most horrible story in the entire god damn bible, yet we turn it into a cute little picture of animals on a boat with a rainbow in the background, and then we slap it on a blanket for toddlers.
Pictured: Global Extinction Event and mascot for daycare centers.

Am I.... Am I the only person who finds this appalling?  Maybe.  And don't get me wrong, it's stupid to get upset over what is a PROFOUNDLY STUPID story.  I know this.  Noah's Ark never really happened (well, not the way everyone thinks it did, anyway).  The notion that all the non-water based biodiversity on the planet could fit in one party boat is beyond ludicrous.  Only the most hardcore of religious Jewish/Christian/Islamic person would ever truly believe this is a literal story.  People (mostly apologists) are always saying that Noah's Ark works as mythic storytelling.  Well, I won't argue, clearly this IS mythic storytelling.  My issue with it is the "works" part.

Let's start at the beginning, literally and figuratively, which is actually pretty easy.  Noah's ark is way early in the Bible, Chapter 6 of Genesis.  So here's what's happened so far in the history of the Biblical universe:  The creation of the (flat) Earth; Adam and Eve fall from grace (the original boning!); Cain and Abel (I'd place my bets on the meat-eater winning this match); the list of patriarchs (who mostly never appear again); and the Grigori bone a bunch of ladies (the part no one remembers, I'll come back to this in a moment).  And that's it.  Literally all that has happened before we open with the Noah story.  I'm assuming you know how it goes, but here's the cliff notes in case you forgot:

God's pissed off about the world being wicked.  He decides to murder the entire world, except for Noah's family.  He has Noah build a bigass boat, and put 2 of every kind of animal on it, and hope the in-breeding doesn't kill us all.  Then he floods the entire planet.  Everything dies, except for fishes and whales and shit like that.  The waters recede, and even God's feeling like he might have gone a little overboard with this whole "murder everything" thing.  To make up for drowning everyone, he invents optics, and promises to try to keep his temper in check.  Noah decides to just say "fuck it" and get drunk, which I admit is the only proper solution to this horrifying situation.  And then to put a nice little epilogue on this tale, while Noah's unconscious from all the booze, his son.... rapes him.  Or he rapes his mom?  Or something?  Whatever he does, uncomfortable incest is implied for reasons that are never really explained.  The end.

Guys.  This story is horrible.  Nothing good happens in it.  And the more you think about it, the worse it gets.  Let's start with the whole "God's pissed about something" part. The story tells us that he's mad that mankind is wicked.  Well, okay, but when was mankind taught what "wicked" meant?  This isn't post-ten commandments or anything.  God can't say "Stop breaking the rules!" when he's never given them to the people.  That's totally not fair.  God got pissed at his "children", and rather than trying to change their bad behavior, God decided to just flat out kill them all.  God is the worst parent I've ever heard of.

And why flood the whole world, anyway?  God's beef was with humanity, the plants and animals were just collateral damage.  Couldn't God have just invented a plague or something that would wipe out the human race and leave the rest of the world alone?  Is he just that short of imagination?  Rather than surgery to fix the world, he opts to smash the whole damn thing.

And think I'm just making the incest thing up?  Genesis 9, verses 22-24:
"And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him."
Scholars don't agree on exactly what that means, but whatever it is is just gross to think about.  Now, because I look into things like this, I could tell you that the whole excerpt is to justify some at-the-time political bullshit to excuse the fact that Israel was being a dick to the land of Canaan.  But that's not the point, not if you're taking the story literally.  It's also not the point if this story is supposed to be a metaphor, because what is it a metaphor about?  Drinking is bad?  Nudity is awful?  Don't rape your parents?  While I think we can all get behind that last one, I really don't think that needs to be explained.

God got pissed off for an unreasonable reason, killed everyone, and tried to make up for his asshole behavior with a fucking rainbow. Then something, something, incest.  And people try to tell me this story is all about renewal and the triumph of the human spirit.  Renewal my ass.

There's one other possibility that I haven't told you yet.  You remember the Grigori?  Who they are and what they're all about is a little vague in Genesis, but most biblical scholars think that they're supposed to be fallen angels.  Basically, the bad angels come down to Earth, make babies with all the hot ladies around here, and those babies grow up to have super powers.  Some people think that the "wickedness of man" is actually God covering up all this.  He destroys the world to get rid of all the angel-babies.

Now that just makes the story worse.  God kills everyone to cover his own ass?  Because that's what this theory implies.  These angels go get their dicks wet, and the only way God can keep everyone from finding out how God's bros knocked all the ladies up was to murder the world?  And sure, they were "fallen" angels.  But why did they fall?  And as their manager, God is responsible for there behavior, yes?  In this scenario, God could have told the entire world "Look, they went crazy and left Heaven, and are causing all these problems.  So, I'm going to selectively smite some people to take care of the issue.  So please, humanity, stay cool for the next couple minutes while I do that."  But no, to cover up that there was ever a problem, God's solution is "Murder.  Everyone."  In this interpretation, he'd rather hide the problem than own up to it, even though hiding the problem leads to mass genocide.

And that's what Noah's Ark is about, no matter how you look at it.  Mass genocide.  This is a story about God killing every man, woman, and child on the planet (along with all the cute animals) except for the one family in all the world that was holier than thou.  And that's bullshit.  Doesn't matter if God was hiding something, or just pissed about humans breaking ill-defined rules, this is a story where God destroys the world, just because he can.  Is that really a message you want to endorse with cute animal pictures?
 
 
You can tell just by the eyes that all of them are dead inside.

So does it work, as mythic storytelling?  It's about mass genocide, for either no good reason, or because God was covering something up.  Oh, also, probable incest-rape.  Honestly, if this story "works", are we really sure we like what it's telling us?

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