Monday, September 26, 2005

So Many Floods, So Little Time

Noah's Ark is the story of a man who escaped God's great Flood becuase of a divine warning. The story of Utanapishtim speaks of a man who escaped the God Enlil's great Flood becuase of a divine warning. Babylonian culture tells of a man who escaped Enki's great Flood becuase of a divine warning. There's something odd about these stories, somehow they seem similar. Funny how the latter two are older than Noah's Ark, but Noah's Ark is considered original.

Then there's Scandinavian folklore:

Oden, Vili, and Ve fought and slew the great ice giant Ymir, and icy water from his wounds drowned most of the Rime Giants. The giant Bergelmir escaped, with his wife and children, on a boat made from a hollowed tree trunk. From them rose the race of frost ogres. Ymir's body became the world we live on. His blood became the oceans. [Sturluson, p. 35]

Silly Scandinavians, stealing the Bible's story before it was even written.

But let's not forget the Kikuyu from Africa:

A beautiful but mysterious woman agreed to marry a man on the condition that he never ask about her family. He agreed, and they lived happily together until it was time for their oldest son's circumcision, and the man asked his wife why her family couldn't attend the ceremony. With that, the wife bounced into the air and made a hole seven miles deep when she landed. She called upon her ancestors, who came as spirits from Mt. Kenya. The spirits raised a thunder and hailstorm as they came. They brought food, goats, cattle, and beer with them and, while the people took shelter in caves, flooded the countryside with beer, turning it into a lake. When the
spirits left, they took the couple and their children with them into Mt. Kenya. [Abrahams, pp. 336-338]

That's a good one, perhaps an even better story is this one:

A heavy rain fell for many days, and a giant snake lay across the river, blocking it so that the whole land flooded. Many people drowned, and thefew survivors fled to the highest mountain, but they still feared as the waters kept rising. A crab appeared and cut through the body of the snake, and the flood subsided. [Frazer, p. 232]

I hope I've made my point. The people who wrote the bible were not only blatantly wrong, but totally unoriginal about what they were wrong about. I would have expected better from the authors of the most read book in history.


The idea for this post came from I Am at the Evangelical Atheist.


At 9/26/2005 1:32 PM, Blogger Advocate of the Browns said...

In Hinduism, Vishnu transformed into a fish and told the Vedas to the guy who found him. Then he flooded the world so only The guy who found him and his wife escaped on his back. Ugh Hindus are such thieves.

At 9/26/2005 2:48 PM, Blogger Eve said...

Dude, it's not stealing. There are so many flood stories because in all likelihood there was a big ol' flood. It didn't flood the entire world, probably just the Black Sea, but still. The divine warning part might not be real, but Bible stories are based, though loosely, on history.

At 9/26/2005 3:25 PM, Anonymous Zeph said...

So...Who did they steal from?

At 9/26/2005 3:49 PM, Blogger Aeger said...

eve: not neccesarily, alot of the bible is just made up hooey. But I do realize that there might have been a flood. That was not my point. My point was that they got that they either made it up or stole it from the texts of religions that already existed but that they said were blatantly wrong

zeph: like I said, other religious texts.

I have learned that it is a bad idea to write posts when ur very very sick, diminishes the understandability of it I suppose.

At 9/26/2005 5:44 PM, Blogger Pyro_Shark said...

There are flood stories in mythology from all over the world from the Americas to Asia to Africa to Australia. Is that just coincidence? I leave that one to the philosophers.

At 9/26/2005 6:26 PM, Blogger Pixelation said...

As a philosopher I say 'yes, yes it is.'

(it's the post hoc ergo propter hoc and the texas sharpshooter fallacies. In other words, it's possible that there've been great floods, but the evidence we have doesn't lead to that so much as suggest it-- and poorly at that. I love when prior research does me good).

At 9/28/2005 5:22 PM, Blogger El Penguino said...

true true, lets not forget that if god did start all those floods, its kinda scary that so many people worship a god that is like a 5-year-old drowning ants

At 9/28/2005 7:39 PM, Blogger mountmccabe said...

Global flood stories are common because they're both scary and comprehensible. If you wanna make a scary story that hits close to home you take something real and exaggerate it.

Human civilization all around the world grew near rivers and on coasts. You need water to drink, for your crops and it makes low-tech transportation easy.

Rivers overrun their banks, sometimes just a little (this is good, it deposits fresh nutritive soil for your crops), sometimes a whole lot (washing away animals, people, buildings.)

Four thousand years ago almost everybody not only knew what a flood was but also had firsthand experience with them. Anyone old enough to have kids old enough to understand anything would almost certainly have firsthand stories of a real big flood that wrecked havoc on the city.

The idea of an actual global flood (i.e. covering all land) is quite ridiculous... (without divine intervention, of course!)

At 9/28/2005 8:01 PM, Blogger Kele said...

Damn, why did I never put 2 and 2 together? I mean the civilizations always being near rivers which flood, making "global" flood stories. I knew some instances were like that but never thought to apply it to all of them for some reason.

At 9/29/2005 12:36 AM, Blogger mountmccabe said...

I forgot to actually comment on the original post. I don't think this is going to be a very fruitful point to bring up with Christians. I can think of two explanations that will make sense (from their perspective, at least):

1. For the more literal bible-believer... everyone is descended from Noah. All these other (false!) religions and folk stories about floods are... about the very same Great Flood.

2. The other line (reasonable for many stripes of Christians) is that flood stories in other cultures is just more evidence that Christianity is true! These other (false!) religions and cultural tales are a shadow, a pale imitation, of the truth. The flood story is actually a good allegory bit with some nice foreshadowing for god selecting out and saving the virtuous (who are mocked for it)... and other folks telling similar stories is just proof that deep down everybody knows about god.

Anyway, the former explanation is denies a significant amount of history/science (par for that course) and the latter is begging the question but these responses will be good enough for most Christians.


Some will eventually get tired of all these unnecessary and unwieldy explanations.

At 11/07/2005 10:49 PM, Blogger alpha_gamma said...

Ya'see the problem with religion is that you can take any event in the world and turn it into God's will, or the Devil's mischief. What probably happened is that the Rabbis were losing support from their congregations and a big flood randomly happened killing off many people, and the Rabbis said it is a sign from God. For example in Medival times is that if things were going terrible for you God was punishing you for some trivial sin, and He was just ignoring the worse sinners. If on the other hand you were doing well, it was God's will and he was rewarding you. So have of the events in the Bible are just ordinary explainable event made bigger and better for the sake of religion.


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