I'm currently reading Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth and in Ch. 9, "The Ark of the Continents" there's this great passage where he brings logic and evidence to bear upon the story of Noah and his Ark. Passages like these still resonate with me since when I was a child I was taught that the Noah story was the literal truth, and most, if not all of my family still believes it to be so. Which of course mystifies me to no end.


     "It is almost too ridiculous to mention it, but I'm afraid I have to because of the more than 40 per cent of the American population who...accept the Bible literally: think what the distribution of animals should look like if they'd all dispersed from Noah's Ark. Shouldn't there be some sort of law of decreasing species diversity as we move away from an epicenter--perhaps Mount Ararat? I don't need to tell you that this is not what we see at all.

     Why would all those marsupials--ranging from tiny pouched mice through koalas and bilbys to giant kangaroos and Diprotodonts--why would all those marsupials, but no placentals at all, have migrated en masse from Mount Ararat to Australia? Which route did they take? And why did not a single member of their straggling caravan pause on the way--in India, perhaps, or China, or some haven along the Great Silk Road? Why did the entire order Edentata (all twenty species of armadillo, including the extinct giant armadillo, all six species of sloth, including extinct giant sloths and all four species of anteater) troop of unerringly to South America, leaving not a rack behind, leaving no hide nor hair nor armour plate of settlers somewhere along the way? Why were they joined by the entire infraorder of caviomorph rodents, including guinea pigs, agoutis, pacas, maras, capybaras, chinchillas and lots of others, a large group of characteristically South American rodents, found nowhere else?"


     He continues with more examples (lemurs in Madagascar, penguins in Antarctica, etc.) and then writes, "Once again, I am sorry to take a sledgehammer to so small a nut, but I have to do so because more than 40 per cent of the American people believe literally in the story of Noah's Ark. We should be able to ignore them and get on with our science, but we can't afford to because they control school boards, they home-school their children to deprive them of access to proper science teachers, and they include many members of the United States Congress, some state governors, and even presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They have the money and the power to build institutions, universities, even a museum where children ride life-size mechanical models of dinosaurs, which, they are solemnly told, coexisted with humans. And, as recent polls have shown, Britain is not far behind (of should that read 'ahead'?), along with parts of Europe and most of the Islamic world.

     Even if we leave Mount Ararat to one side; even if we refrain from lampooning those who take the Noah's Ark myth literally, similar problems apply to the theory of the separate creation of species. Why would an all-powerful creator decide to plant his carefully crafted species on islands and continents in exactly the appropriate pattern to suggest, irresistibly, that they had evolved and dispersed from the site of their evolution?" (Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth. 269-270.)


Humorous and chilling.

Views: 765

Comment by Jim Minion on June 17, 2011 at 9:42pm

This reminds of a a study I had read years ago about a genetic bottleneck of the African Cheetah that happened 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. The problems cheetahs have is because the population got to 10,000 to 25,000 individuals still cause the cheetah genetic problems today.

If you consider in the Noah story, that only two of each animal and 4500 years the amount of inbreeding needed would not allow for the diversity we see in animal genetic's today.

Comment by Bennik Älska on June 17, 2011 at 10:56pm
from the way richard is talking abt the ark, he was probably present when that happened? he saw the ark!?
Comment by Scarlette Blues on June 17, 2011 at 11:07pm
"Passages like these still resonate with me since when I was a child I was taught that the Noah story was the literal truth, and most, if not all of my family still believes it to be so. Which of course mystifies me to no end."

We are in the same boat on this situation. [pun intended] It amazing me that adults believe the story as LITERAL truth. I just don't get it. . .
Comment by Bennik Älska on June 17, 2011 at 11:10pm

why don't you get it scarlette? were you there when it happened?


Comment by Aimee Eisiminger on June 17, 2011 at 11:21pm

Bennik there is absolutely no evidence that this happened...it could not have happened. How could we have gotten the diversity out of a select group of animals?   It is ridiculous to believe this story. It is a fairy tale.

I was just having a discussion with my husband today.  He was suggesting that I am too worried about this stuff that we should just allow people to believe as they wish, but what he does not realize is that these people have the money and power to influence folks into believing this drivel.  It is a scary prospect to think about what could happen to humanity if we continue to use science but never understand it.  Carl Sagan describes it very clearly in a Demon Haunted World.  We are using this technology without clearly understanding how it works and soon there will only a few who will understand and all the others will be at a loss because the science curriculum has been altered to suit the religious contingent.  It is a time bomb. 

Comment by Bennik Älska on June 17, 2011 at 11:40pm
wow, there is no evidence? so how come a lot of people know abt the story?
Comment by oneinfinity on June 17, 2011 at 11:45pm
Were you there Bennik? No. So what's your point. The conflict between the details of the story and actual evidence makes a literal interpretation of the story absurd.
Comment by Steve on June 17, 2011 at 11:46pm

A lot of people know about Greek mythology. A lot of people know about Harry Potter. Doesn't make it true.


The Noah myth can't possibly be true. There is no way a global flood could have happened and there is no way to get all animals in a boat. It's nonsensical on its face.

Comment by Mr Good Without God on June 17, 2011 at 11:50pm



Let us observe your own logic in action, shall we?


You said, "wow, there is no evidence? so how come a lot of people know abt the story?"

In essence you just said the equivalent of the following: "A lot of people know the story, familiarity with (knowledge of) a story by a majority is justifiable as evidence, therefore the story is true!"

Now pay close attention as I demonstrate the issue with your argument:

A lot of people know the story of Superman, familiarity with (knowledge of) Superman's story by a majority is justifiable as evidence, therefore the story of Superman is true!"


I hope you can see how flawed your argument truly is. 

Comment by Mr Good Without God on June 18, 2011 at 12:07am
And another thing, your repeated argument that "they weren't there to see it, so they can't know " is completely asinine. If that was true, detectives and forensic scientists wouldn't be able to solve crimes unless they "witnessed it themselves". To show you how stupid the argument you keep spouting off is, all I would have to do is hold up a picture of an area decimated by an earthquake, another by a tornado, and a third by a hurricane to any semi-educated person and they will be able to solve which picture is caused by which disaster. How is this possible if they were not there to see it happen? The fact is that we rely on hard evidence and logic to understand things we weren't there to see.


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